FARMERS’ protest in India continued on Monday(28) over three controversial agricultural bills which became laws on Sunday. Many states have clarified that they will form ‘counter laws’ against these new laws.
India’s president on Sunday(27) approved the bills into laws amid nationwide protests by farmers.
According to them the new laws will stunt their bargaining power and instead allow large retailers to have control over pricing.
States like Maharashtra and Punjab have already expressed their unwillingness to enforce the newly-enacted laws under their jurisdiction.
Farmers’ organisations say one of the three laws could lead to the government stopping buying grain at guaranteed prices, a move that would disrupt wholesale markets which have so far ensured fair and timely payments to farmers.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has already lost a key political ally from the northern Indian state of Punjab, one of India’s two bread basket states, where farmers form an influential voting bloc.
The country’s main opposition Congress party has also backed the protests.
Under the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill growers can directly sell their produce to institutional buyers such as big traders and retailers.
Nearly 85 per cent of India’s poor farmers own less than 2 hectares (5 acres) of land and they find it difficult to directly negotiate with large buyers.
Modi’s administration has clarified that the wholesale markets will operate as usual, and the government only aims to empower farmers to sell directly to buyers.